The Temple Location
Tradition holds that the two previous temples of Solomon and Herod were
situated over the Dome of the Rock. There have also been theories that the
temple was just to the North or just to the South of the Dome of the Rock
on the Temple Mount. Recently, with what seems to go back to the writings
of Ernest L. Martin in 1994, there has been a lot of theories and beliefs
that the temple may not have been on the Temple Mount, but rather to the
South of the Temple Mount in the City of David. This page will look at the
arguments for both sides with references for further personal reasearch.
This page is focused more on the spacial aspect of the temple. For the history
of the temple, go
I still have to do some more research on this but it presents, at the
very least, some compelling thoughts. I also recognize I’m no authority
on archaeology or history and so this page is a working collection of points
from experts on both sides and is a work in progress....
What Do We Know?
The first place to start is simply to examine quotes from Biblical and
historical first hand accounts. From the Bible we don't get much of a description
of the details of the location, but we do know some facts about its location.
From the Bible
- In/On Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1 | 2 Chronicles 33:15)
- In the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan
the Jebusite (2 Chronicles 3:1)
- In/At Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 3:1 | Ezra 1:2-5; 2:68; 3:8; 5:14-17;
6:5; 7:27 | Psalm 68:29 | Daniel 5:2-3 | 1 Kings 12:27 | 1 Chronicles
6:32 | 2 Chronicles 33:15)
- Yeshua travels at the triumphal entry from Bethphage and Bethany
to the mount of Olives, entered into Jerusalem and into the temple.
(Mark 11:1; 11-12)
- Mount of Olives opposite of the Temple (Mark 13:3)
- Solomon's house and the house of the LORD were encompassed by the
walls of Jerusalem (1 Kings 3:1)
- Solomon's temple was 60 x 30 x 20 cubits (Length x Height x Breadth)
(1 Kings 6:2)
- Solomon's porch was 20 x 10 cubits (Length [breadth of the temple]
x Breadth) (1 Kings 6:3)
- King Jehoash is brought down from the house of the LORD by the way
of the gate of the guard to the king’s house (2 Kings 11:19)
- The people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places.
Jotham the son of Uzziah built the higher gate of the house of the LORD.
(2 Kings 15:35 | 2 Chronicles 27:3-4 | 1 Kings 3:2-4) This would seem
to indicate there was a higher place than the temple that people were
sacrificing at and so a gate was built at the temple leading to that
- The high gate of Benjamin was by the house of the LORD. (Jeremiah
From scripture we can gather that the temple was opposite the Mount of
Olives on Mount Moriah where the threshingfloor was within the walls of
Jerusalem at the time of Solomon.
As described in 1 Kings 3:2-4, prior to the temple being built, “the
people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto
the name of the LORD.” Then both 2 Kings 15:35 and 2 Chronicles
27:3-4 speak of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, building a higher gate of
the house of the LORD because the people were still sacrificing and burning
incense in the high places. This would seem to imply that the temple, which
was on Mount Moriah, had points higher to it upon which people were sacrificing
such that a gate was built on to that higher side.
From Favius Josephus
Antiquities of the Jews XV.11
- Verse 1
- The temple built after Babylon was 60 cubits shorter than Solomon's
temple. (Cyrus and Darius determined the measurements of the temple
construction, which is why they didn't follow the original design.)
- Verse 3
- Herod took away the old foundations and laid new ones, erecting
the temple on them. These foundations sank 20 cubits. (They resolved
to raise them again in the days of Nero)
- The stones of the temple were 25 x 8 x 12 cubits (Length x Height
- The middle of the temple was visible to those that dwelt in
the country for a great many furlongs.
- The entire temple was encompassed with very large cloisters
(Covered, open air walk typically running along walls of buildings.)
- There was a large wall to both the cloisters
- The hill was a rocky ascent, that declined by degrees towards
the east parts of the city, till it came to an elevated level. (Solomon
encompassed with a wall upwards and round the top of it.)
- He also built a wall below, beginning at the bottom, which was
encompassed by a deep valley; and at the south side he laid rocks
together, and bound them one to another with lead, and included
some of the inner parts, till it proceeded to a great height, and
till both the largeness of the square edifice and its altitude were
immense, and till the vastness of the stones in the front were plainly
visible on the outside, yet so that the inward parts were fastened
together with iron, and preserved the joints immovable for all future
- When this work [for the foundation] was done in this manner,
and joined together as part of the hill itself to the very top of
it, he wrought it all into one outward surface, and filled up the
hollow places which were about the wall, and made it a level on
the external upper surface, and a smooth level also.
- This hill was walled all round, and in compass four furlongs,
[the distance of] each angle containing in length a furlong: but
within this wall, and on the very top of all, there ran another
wall of stone also, having, on the east quarter, a double cloister,
of the same length with the wall; in the midst of which was the
- This cloister looked to the gates of the temple
- Verse 4
- On the north side [of the temple] was built a citadel, whose
walls were square, and strong, and of extraordinary firmness.
- This citadel was built by the kings of the Asamonean race, who
were also high priests before Herod, and they called it the Tower,
in which were reposited the vestments of the high priest. (They
were kept there and after he died they were under the control of
- Herod fortified the tower, in order to secure and guard the
temple. To honor his friend and Roman ruler Antonius, he named it
the Tower of Antonia.
- Verse 5
- In the western quarters of the enclosure of the temple there
were four gates:
- The first led to the king's palace and went to a passage
over the intermediate valley
- Two led to the suburbs of the city
- the last led to the other city, where the road descended
down into the valley by a great number of steps, and thence
up again by the ascent for the city lay over against the temple
in the manner of a theater, and was encompassed with a deep
valley along the entire south quarter.
- To the South, the fourth front of the temple had gates in the
middle and also had the royal cloisters, with three walkways that
stretched from the East valley to the West valley. (Looking down
from the battlements/cloister was very high from the valley below)
- This cloister had 162 pillars that stood in four rows with the
fourth row interwoven into the wall. Each pillar was the diameter
of three men joining hands around it. They were twenty-seven feet
long (tall), with a double spiral at their base. These four rows
of pillars created three walkways in the middle of this cloister,
two the same size with a breadth of thirty feet, the length was
a furlong, and the height fifty feet. The breadth of the middle
walkway of the cloister was one and a half times those on either
side, and the height was double. The roofs were adorned with deep
sculptures in wood, representing many sorts of figures. The middle
was much higher than the rest, and the wall of the front was adorned
with beams, resting upon pillars, that were interwoven into it,
and that front was all of polished stone.
- In the midst of this cloister was the second, to be gone up
to by a few steps: this was encompassed by a stone wall for a partition,
with an inscription, which forbade any foreigner to go in under
pain of death. Now this inner enclosure had on its southern
and northern quarters three gates [equally] distant one from another;
but on the east quarter, towards the sun-rising, there was one large
gate, through which such as were pure came in, together with their
wives; but the temple further inward in that gate was not allowed
to the women; but still more inward was there a third [court of
the] temple, whereinto it was not lawful for any but the priests
alone to enter. The temple itself was within this; and before that
temple was the altar, upon which we offer our sacrifices and burnt-offerings
to God. Into none of these three did king Herod enter, for he was
forbidden, because he was not a priest. However, he took care of
the cloisters and the outer enclosures, and these he built in eight
- Verse 6
- The temple was built by the priests in a year and six months.
The celebration of its rebuilding coincided with the king's inauguration
and so the celebration was great.
- Verse 7
- There was a passage built for the king that led from Antonia
to the inner temple, at its eastern gate. Over this he also erected
a tower for himself so he could get into the temple to guard against
any sedition made by the people against their kings.
The Wars of the Jews V
There are five views as generally represented in the image below. You
can click on the various temples to jump to that view and learn more.